Verse 1. - Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee (compare the preceding psalm, vers. 1 and 4). Yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge (see the comment on Psalm 17:8; and comp. Psalm 36:7; Psalm 61:4; Psalm 63:7; Psalm 91:4). The metaphor is first used in Deuteronomy 32:11. Until these calamities (rather, these wickednesses, or these malignities) be overpast. That they will pass away the psalmist has no doubt. What he needs is support while they endure.
I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me.
Verse 2. - I will cry unto God most High. In the original, "unto Elohim 'elyon" - an expression which only occurs here and in Psalm 78:56. El elyon, however, occurs in Psalm 78:45; as in Genesis 14:18, 19, 22, and Jehovah 'elyon in Psalm 7:18 [Psalm 7:17]. Unto God that performeth all things for me (comp. Psalm 138:8). God "accomplishes" for his saints whatever is good for them.
He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth.
Verse 3. - He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. The two clauses stand unconnected in the original, which runs, "He shall send from heaven and save me - my pursuer reproaches - God shall send," etc. The second clause is really parenthetic, and, as Dr. Driver says ('Hebrew Verbs,' § 163), "circumstantial," noting the circumstances under which God would take action. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth. His mercy, to relieve the psalmist; his truth, to confound the psalmist's enemies.
My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.
Verse 4. - My soul is among lions (comp. Psalm 7:2; Psalm 10:9; Psalm 17:12; Psalm 22:21, etc.). And I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men - literally, I lie on firebands, sons of men - whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword. David occupies the cave (of Adullam?), while around him prowl lion-like men, whose fury is like that of firebrands, who threaten to devour him with their sharp teeth, and to pierce his soul with their cruel tongues.
Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth.
Verse 5. - Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; or, exalt thyself, O God, above the heavens; i.e. show forth thy might in such a signal way that the heavens (i.e. the angels) may stand to gaze at it. Let thy glory be above all the earth. Let thy exaltation equally draw the attention of the whole earth.
They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down: they have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves. Selah.
Verses 6-11. - The strophe of "triumphant confidence" now begins, but with an echo from the strophe of complaint. The enemy is still at work, still plotting against the psalmist, still seeking to do him a mischief; but the efforts made are in vain. They only bring the enemy himself into trouble (ver. 6), and cause the psalmist to pour forth a song of joy (vers. 7-11). Verse 6. - They have prepared a net for my steps (comp. Psalm 9:15; Psalm 10:10; Psalm 25:15; Psalm 31:4; Psalm 35:7). These metaphors from the chase are peculiarly appropriate at the time when Saul was "hunting David upon the mountains" (1 Samuel 26:20). My soul is bowed down; rather, they have bowed down my soul; literally, he has bowed down; but the alternate use of the singular and the plural, without any real change of subject, is very common. They have digged a pit before me (comp. Psalm 7:15; Psalm 119:85). Into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves. Here is the first note of triumph - a very familiar note (Psalm 7:15; Psalm 9:15; Psalm 39:8; Psalm 141:10), but one always sounded with marked satisfaction.
My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.
Verse 7. - My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed; or, my heart is steadfast - it does not doubt or waver, it is firm in its trust on thee. I will sing and give praise. Sing to thee, i.e., and praise thy Name.
Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early.
Verse 8. - Awake up, my glory; i.e. "my soul" (comp. Psalm 16:9; Psalm 30:12). The psalmist stirs his soul to earnest, heartfelt devotion. Awake, psaltery and harp; i.e. awake, my musical instruments and my musical powers, which have slept, as it were, while I was in affliction. I myself will awake early; or, "will awaken the dawn" (comp. Ovid, 'Metaph.,' 11:597, "Vigil ales evocat auroram;" and Milton, "Cheerly rouse the slumbering morn."
I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: I will sing unto thee among the nations.
Verse 9. - I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people (rather, peoples); I will sing unto thee among the nations. The psalmist's joy is toe great to be confined within any narrower limits than those of the entire earth. He will have his hymn of praise go forth to all "peoples," "nations," and languages. Michaelis notes that his desire has had a full accomplishment.
For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds.
Verse 10. - For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds. "Thy mercy, thy truth" (comp. ver. 3).
Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: let thy glory be above all the earth.
Verse 11. - Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: let thy glory he above all the earth (compare the comment on ver. 5, with which this verso is identical).